Living the life of an urban housewife in a town that is too large to really be a town and too small to actually be a city is sometimes difficult. The conscious (and slightly economical) decision to not own a car has made it even more difficult to be satisfied with my weekly shop! Chelmsford has few options open to the environmentally and economically aware housewife. As a town it has outgrown it's country-side feel. The town centre heaves with high street shops, brand names coffee shops, restaurant chains and fast food stops, the small covered market is a mixture of food and goods and sadly leaves much to be desired.
I do not mean to look down my nose at what is available in my new town I have chosen to purchase my meat at the butcher in the market because I do believe in supporting my local producers/purveyors, but I find myself regularly disappointed in their run-of-the-mill selection. The same goes for the fishmonger, who rarely stocks raw prawns!
There is something coined a Gourmet Market which takes place on Fridays and Saturdays in the town centre. Unlike a proper farmers market with it's rustic veggies and stalls of homemade preserves and baked goods, this gourmet market is more an extension of a food hall. Sausages, burgers and Indian take away is available with a large whole-sale fruit and veggie man taking over nearly half the space.
For two reasons: a) interest in supporting local farmers, and b) no transport, David and I have decided to have an organic vegetable box delivered once a fortnight. Joining this scheme has changed my life! Every other Thursday afternoon we are brought a box of 10 vegetables from Sacrewell Farm (part of the Riverford Organics group of farms). The box means that we are now cooking with seasonal vegetables (although I haven't completely stopped picking up the odd addition like spring onions or avocados) and more importantly I am planning my meals ahead of time, saving me more money at the grocer. Were we not on such a tight budget we would more than likely have a box delivered every week.
I urge you to investigate schemes in your local area. The cost may be a bit more than you would spend at a big grocery chain, but it the quality and the variety is worth it!